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15 Questions To Ask Yourself If You Love An Addict

15 Questions To Ask Yourself If You Love An Addict

Addiction is a snake that wraps around your neck, slithering and squeezing you tighter and tighter until you are gasping for air. Whether it’s drugs, alcohol, food, video games, or the computer screen, you stand by helplessly watching your loved one morph into an unrecognizable creature. You are wide-awake in a nightmare.

If you love an addict, you feel as if your life is fading away. You are unable to sleep, eat, work, socialize, or maintain friendships. Nights are spent staring into darkness. Your imagination conjures up scenes of your addict lying in the street, hoping and praying that someone is sober enough to get her (or him) home safely. You are powerless, frustrated, and losing your own life as your loved one spirals deeper and deeper into addiction.

There are many different levels to the wild cycle of addiction. From denial, stealing, lying, and rock bottoms; with promises of change only to bounce back for just one more go round.

While the addict falls into the dungeons of darkness, you are dragged down with him. Everyone suffers.

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There is hope. Once you step back, you will be able to take positive action to get your life in order. Addiction causes chaos and confusion. In order to gain clarity and start your own healing process, ask yourself these questions.

1. What can I do?

Try as hard as you can to get your addict the help he/she needs. After you have exhausted every effort to get your loved one sober, you have to make the decision to live your life. You must take your own life back. It’s a decision you must make and remake daily. You deserve to live. You are still here.

2. How is this affecting the rest of my family and loved ones?

You probably don’t realize it, but there are other people in your life that need you, want you, and miss you. It’s easy to forget everyone else when every breath, step, and heartbeat of yours is being controlled by your addict’s choices.

3. Where’s the closest support group?

Find the closest support group-ASAP! The only person that understands what you are going through is someone who is going through the same thing. Friends try to help. People offer advice, but unless they are in the same situation, their words mean nothing. They do not understand your pain, fear, and helplessness.

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4. Who’s my 3:00 a.m. friend?

Sleepless nights are frightening. You need someone you can call in the middle of the night. Even if you never call her, you need to know that you can. You need someone who will wake up from a deep sleep, hear your voice, sit up and listen to you. Talking is important, but be careful not to become obsessive talking only about your addict. Sometimes the only one there for you at 3:00 a.m. is your Higher Power. No phone calls required.

5. How can I change?

Set a customized program for your day. Structure your life. As the addict needs to structure his, you need to live on a schedule. Having too much free time allows your mind to travel into the dungeon of darkness. Don’t go there. Don’t fall into the trap. Get out of bed, take a walk, go to the gym, pray, listen to podcasts, repeat inspiration mantras throughout the day. 12 step programs are the tried and true effective method for dealing with addiction. However, not everyone responds to them the same. Find the program that works for you and work it! Live it, breathe it, every moment of every day.

6. Will meditation help?

When your thoughts are running wild and your heart is racing, sitting still and focusing your thoughts is the last thing you want to do. You probably want to run away from thoughts, not run into them. Ironically, the process of meditation benefits your negative thoughts, fears, and anxiety.

Meditation has many forms. A daily walk while reciting prayers or words of comfort (mantras work great) is also a form of meditation. Learn to comfort yourself. Have a toolbox of actions to take that will calm you when your heart starts pounding and your mind starts racing. Daily meditation is an exercise for your mind. It is a mind muscle that allows you to control your thoughts.

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7. How is my breathing?

Addiction takes your breath away, literally. You don’t realize that when you spend most of your day worried about where your addict is, what she is doing, and if she’s okay; that you forget to breathe. Learn breathing techniques. QiGong, pranayama, Dr. Andrew Weil, and Thich Nhat Hanh all have easy to follow breathing exercises that work.  If you practice them daily, you will benefit immediately.

8. When was the last time I laughed?

Addiction is also a thief that robs you of all joy, and takes away your smile. One of the simplest joys in life is laughter. Laughter is non-existent. Your smile has disappeared. You can’t remember the last time you had fun.

9. Do I love myself?

Love yourself enough to take back your own life. You deserve to live. You are alive. Start to live again. Separate yourself from your addict. Give the addict his own life to live. You can’t control it. You didn’t cause it. You can’t change it. Learn to detach. It doesn’t mean you are taking your love away. It means you are helpless and the addict has to figure out how to he wants to live his life.

10. What is my role in my addict’s life?

It’s hard to admit but often people who love addicts become addicted to their addict. You think about your loved one every minute of the day and night. You are one. There’s so separation between you. Co-dependency is unhealthy compassion in disguise.

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11. Do I have healthy boundaries?

People who love addicts have a hard time setting limits. Loving, kind people have trouble saying no. They are givers who love passionately. Healthy boundaries are necessary for important decisions that you have to make regarding money, food, and where they will sleep.

12. Is my addict strong enough to survive on his own?

Addicts are slick, smart, strong, and tough. Don’t underestimate an addict’s ability to maneuver through situations. If they can handle addiction, they can handle anything. This is also their strength, their potential for greatness, once they get clean.

13. How do I surrender?

Let it go, all of it. Stop clinging to your dreams, desires, plans and schemes. You don’t know what’s best, even though you think you do. Letting go is a mantra; a chant that gets you through the pain, the fear, and the darkness. Repeat it over and over until you believe it. Let it permeate every cell of your being. Letting go is freedom.

14. What if I don’t have a Higher Power?

Find one. You cannot go through this alone. Whether it’s your religious beliefs or a “power greater than yourself,” you have to have someone to talk to when no one else is there. You have to pray to something and believe that your prayers will be heard. You have to believe that miracles can happen, because they do.

15. Can I survive this?

Yes! You will survive. You will smile again. You will laugh again. You will breathe again. Wake up early, go out and watch the sun rise. Look at the stars and the moon at night. Open your eyes and look around you. See all the people who surround you with love. Hug them, hold on to them. Open up your heart. Love again. Live again.

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June Silny

ADHD Coach, Writer, ADDitude Magazine featured contributor

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Last Updated on January 24, 2021

How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

Do you say yes so often that you no longer feel that your own needs are being met? Are you wondering how to say no to people?

For years, I was a serial people pleaser[1]. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time, especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

It took a long while, but I learned the art of saying no. Saying no meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. When that happened, I became a lot happier.

And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

The Importance of Saying No

When you learn the art of saying no, you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey, considered one of the most successful women in the world, confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything.

Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

Warren Buffett views “no” as essential to his success. He said:

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

When I made “no” a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success, focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say no.

From an early age, we are conditioned to say yes. We said yes probably hundreds of times in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work, to get a promotion, to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

We say yes because we feel good when we help someone, because it can seem like the right thing to do, because we think that is key to success, and because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist.

And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves.

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At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we are feeling bad that we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

The message, no matter where we turn, is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

How Do You Say No Without Feeling Guilty?

Deciding to add the word “no” to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say no, but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of no that you could finally create more time for things you care about.

But let’s be honest, using the word “no” doesn’t come easily for many people.

3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time, especially you haven’t done it much in the past, will feel awkward. Your comfort zone is “yes,” so it’s time to challenge that and step outside that.

If you need help getting out of your comfort zone, check out this article.

2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

When you want to learn how to say no, remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it: who else knows about all of the demands in your life? No one.

Only you are at the center of all of these requests. You are the only one that understands what time you really have.

3. Saying No Means Saying Yes to Something That Matters

When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else that we may care more about. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

6 Ways to Start Saying No

Incorporating that little word “no” into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

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1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

One of the biggest challenges to saying no is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no will reflect poorly on you?

Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because of FOMO, even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better[2].

3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say No

Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say yes because we worry about how others will respond or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose their respect. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

Keep in mind that saying no can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way.

You might disappoint someone initially, but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to. And it will often help others have more respect for you and your boundaries, not less.

4. When the Request Comes in, Sit on It

Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say no. There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

5. Communicate Your “No” with Transparency and Kindness

When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest[3] to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

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How do you say no? 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

    Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

    Clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

    6. Consider How to Use a Modified No

    If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” as this will give you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

    Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task, but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

    Final Thoughts

    Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

    Use the request as a way to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself.

    Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project, but not by working all weekend. You’ll find yourself much happier.

    More Tips on How to Say No

    Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Science of People: 11 Expert Tips to Stop Being a People Pleaser and Start Doing You
    [2] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Tips to Get Over Your FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out
    [3] Cooks Hill Counseling: 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

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